Friday, August 12, 2016

Emergency program split

By Kate Bouey - CASTANET Aug 12, 2016 / 5:00 am
Vernon's emergency preparedness is “top notch” despite the impending break up of a regional program, according to Mayor Akbal Mund. “We're going to run it as we always did,” said Mund. “Our emergency services are top notch.” Despite plaudits when the program began in 2010, the inter-municipal emergency program (IEP), run by co-ordinator Helen Sinclair from the City of Vernon, ends on Dec. 31. The IEP provides operational support to first responders in the North Okanagan, including fire, police, ambulance and public works during major incidents. Earlier this week, the District of Coldstream took the step of hiring its first protective services co-ordinator. Matthew Treit takes on the role effective Sept. 8. “He's taking on many tasks,” said Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick, of Treit's role. “He will have the same role as Helen Sinclair and will also do fire inspections, among other things. We have blended a lot of tasks into one job.” Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper, chairman of the Emergency Services committee, points the finger at Coldstream and the North Okanagan Regional District for first deciding to leave the program – leaving Lumby, P.164-165
Armstrong, Enderby and Spallumcheen trying to decide what to do. “We got together and asked 'what should we do' and, in the end, dissolved the function. We decided everybody will go their own way,” said Pieper. “It is nothing about poor service. It has been extremely well done.” Pieper is not worried his area would be unprepared in the event of disaster. “We all have mutual aid agreements. If somebody needs help, they come. It's happened before and it could happen again,” he said. “God forbid a Fort McMurray could happen here but if it did we would come together instantly. All it takes are a couple of phone calls.” Mund agreed, but added that once the service ends, other communities will have to pay for that additional help. “In a major catastrophe, it could end up costing the smaller municipalities more.” Meanwhile, Sinclair has been helping communities set up their own programs. The many volunteers who take part in times of emergency are being asked to register with their municipalities, she said.

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